South Africa 0 England 3

A look back at the recently concluded T20I series between South Africa and England, a petition, a link and some photographs.

The T20I series between England and South Africa ended last night, and what an ending it was! This post looks back at that series.

MATCH 1: BEURAN HENDRICKS’ HORROR SHOW

South Africa bossed this match for most of its duration, but in the 17th over of the innings Beuran Hendricks lost his bearings completely and in so doing lost South Africa the match. England had needed 51 off the last 24 balls to win, but by the time Hendricks had reached the end of his over, taking nine deliveries instead of the regulation six to do so, that had become 23 of 18, and England were suddenly in full control, and duly completed their victory with four balls and five wickets to spare.

MATCH 2: NGIDI’S PYRRHIC VICTORY OVER MALAN

Once again England were behind for large parts of this match, and with three overs to go in the chase they needed 28, which looked a tough proposition on a slow pitch. Ngidi;s final over was the 18th over of the chase, and although he dismissed Malan with the fifth ball of it the previous four had been dispatched for 14. The dismissal was immediately followed by a wide and then two off the extra delivery necessitated by the infraction, which reduced the target to 11 off 12 balls. South Africa opted for Nortje rather than Rabada to bowl the 19th, and by the end of it England needed just three to win, and gamely though he tried not even Rabada could prevent that.

MATCH 3: THE MALAN MASTERCLASS

South Africa won the toss and batted. After 10 overs they were 66-3, by the end of the 15th this had improved to 107-3, and then Rassie van der Dussen and Faf du Plessis went crazy in the last five overs, plundering no fewer than 84 further runs to finish on 191-3, a daunting looking total.

Roy made 16 before holing out, which brought Dawid Malan, the world no1 ranked T20I batter, in to join Buttler. Malan hit 10 off his first two balls, and simply kept on going. Buttler supported him well, and by the end of the 10th over England were 85-1, needing 107 in the remaining 10 to complete a 3-0 sweep. By the end of the 15th, such was the onslaught they now launched, this target had been reduced to 29 in the final five overs, and in the 18th over Malan hit his fifth six to move to 94 and put England within six of the target. The next delivery was a wide, and then Malan hit a four to level the scores. Off the fourth legal delivery of the over Malan took the match and series winning single, finishing unbeaten on 99 off 47 balls. This victory took England to the top of T20I rankings, and Malan’s innings saw him become the first T20I batter to have a rating of over 900 points – 915 to be exact. In his 19th T20I it was tenth score of 50 or more, and his average in the form of the game now stands at 53. Before this match began, for all his ranking, there were those still questioning whether Malan was worth his place in the team. He provided the most emphatic of affirmative answers to that one, and I trust we will hear no more of such nonsense.

The first two matches of this series were closely fought, with the result in doubt until quite close to the end, but this was every bit as much of a shellacking as a margin of nine wickets with 14 balls to spare suggests. Less than eight hours after this game finished Australia set out to make at a 3-0 sweep of an ODI series against India, and failed to deliver, going down by 13 runs, the hitherto dominant Steve Smith (rapid centuries in both the first two matches) contributing just seven.

A PETITION, A LINK AND PHOTOGRAPHS

Jenny Jones of the Green Party, a former deputy mayor of London and now in the House of Lords, drew my attention to this change.org petition calling on current London mayor Sadiq Khan to take control of arterial roads in the borough of Kensington & Chelsea. It is quite clear from the information contained in the petition that RBKC are failing miserably to do the job. A screenshot of the petition can be seen below:

Please sign and share this petition.

Richard Murphy of Tax Research UK has put up a post titled MMT: a primer, which I heartily recommend you to read. If you want to explore the subject in greater detail, as I hope, then as well as Richard’s blog I recommend that you get hold of a copy of Stephanie Kelton’s “The Deficit Myth”.

Finally, here are a few photographs:

The Case Against A Test Recall For Jonny Bairstow

The case against the proposed recall to the England test squad of Jonny Bairstow.

Apparently England are considering recalling Bairstow to the test squad due to an injury to Ollie Pope. In this post I set out the reasons why they should not be doing so.

TRIED AND UNTRUSTED

Bairstow was dropped from the test squad because he was consistently failing to deliver in that format. His brilliance in limited overs cricket is unquestionable, but the case of Jason Roy should serve as a warning. Roy had a fantastic 2019 World Cup, and was drafted into the test squad off the back of it. Save for one good innings against Ireland at Lord’s he never looked like making the grade as a test batter. Not only that, the knock that his confidence took through his failures in test cricket has impacted on his international white ball form to the extent that his place in the squad is now in jeopardy.

DANIEL LAWRENCE AND JAMES BRACEY

On any rational assessment Daniel Lawrence and James Bracey should be ahead of Bairstow in the queue for a test place. Both have fine recent first class records, both made runs in intra-squad games in the preparation for the Covid-hit 2020 home international season. I would probably opt for Lawrence of the two, but fully acknowledge the case for Bracey. Lawrence and Bracey are both very much players for the future, and the upcoming series in Sri Lanka would give them a chance to stake a long term claim, whereas Bairstow would be a very regressive selection.

COUNTY CHAMPIONSHIP

The proving ground for long format players is supposed to the county championship, and even in the abbreviated 2020 season, where Essex and Somerset played six matches each and everyone else five more than one youngster accepted opportunities that came their way. The inclusion of Bairstow in a test squad would smack of ‘closed shop’ practices and look suspiciously like a slap in the face not just for the players I have actually named above, but for the County Championship. Jordan Cox of Kent had an amazing season, especially for someone who was still in his teens at the time (he has just turned 20), and has every right to expect a test call to come sooner rather than later, and like Lawrence and Bracey he would be more deserving of such than Jonny Bairstow.

The other alternative route the selectors could go down given his recent success with the bat is to promote Buttler to no 6 and give the wicket keeper’s role to Foakes. This too would be superior to the non-solution of a recall for Bairstow, especially if given the nature of Sri Lankan pitches they plan to elevate Matthew Parkinson, the young leg spinner.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Here are some recent photographs…

Three Contrasting Cricket Matches

Accounts of three very different cricket matches, an important link and some photographs.

From the beginning of the first of these matches to the end of the third a grand total of 31 and a quarter hours elapsed. Before I get in my detailed coverage of each game I have one other thing to do…

SHARE YOUR BLOG

The wonderful Phoebe MD has once again offered people a chance to share their blogs with a wider audience. Please visit the post here, post a link to a post or posts from your own blog, and check out the links others have posted.

GAME 1: AUSTRALIA V INDIA

This one was a 50 overs per side runfest notable also for the spectacularly slow over rate – from the start of coverage on the radio to the final delivery over nine hours elapsed. Australia batted first, and Aaron Finch and Steve Smith each ran up centuries, while Glen Maxwell produced a spectacular cameo at the end. This left Australia with 374 to defend, as only Mohammad Shami among India’s bowlers managed to exercise any kind of control over the scoring rate.

India began the chase brightly, helped by some early waywardness on the part of Mitchell Starc, but then Josh Hazlewood took three wickets in very rapid succession, and although they continued to score at a decent rate India never really got back into the contest. Leg spinner Adam Zampa picked up four wickets as India got desperate.

Australia ended up with a comfortable victory and India looked to be lacking depth in both batting and bowling – they had only five regular bowlers at their disposal, and the fifth wicket pair were faced with the double challenge of maintaining a rapid run rate and staying together until quite deep into the innings due to a lack of batting to come.

The umpires were far too lax on time wasting, allowing Steve Smith a ridiculous number of changes of batting gloves to give just one example. I understand that some disciplinary action has been taken, but the problem will only be properly addressed if a)the umpires are absolutely rock hard on time wasting, being prepared to do things like telling Steve Smith that no he cannot have a 27th new pair of batting gloves for the innings, he must make do with his current pair, and b)failure to bowl ones allocation of overs in the allotted time is punished by a fine of runs – I suggest ten per unbowled over or twice the batting side’s scoring rate, whichever is the greater (this latter being to ensure that the measure is actually punitive).

GAME 2: SOUTH AFRICA VERSUS ENGLAND

This was a 20 overs per side match. England had to decide which of the four batters they had who habitually bat in the top three in limited overs cricket would go down the order, and they opted to place Bairstow at number four, going with a top three of Buttler, Roy and Malan (the current no1 T20 batter in the world). They also opted for only one genuine spin option, Rashid, with Moeen Ali missing out. England gave themselves two major bowling variations besides Rashid’s leg spin: the left arm of Sam Curran and the extra pace of Jofra Archer, which latter proved a doubtful asset on a slow surface. For South Africa Nortje was injured, while George Linde, a left arm spinner, was given a debut.

Morgan won the toss and chose to field first. England began very well, and after three overs SA were 12-1. The next three overs went for 45 however, so that at the end of the powerplay South Africa were 57-1 and headed for a big total. Rashid was respectably economical, but unthreatening, finishing with 0-27 from his four overs and never really looking like taking a wicket. Sam Curran was the best England bowler, taking 3-28 from his four overs. Unfortunately Tom Curran blotted the family copybook by racking up the wrong kind of half century – 55 being belted from his four overs. A final total of 179-6 was good but less substantial than it had looked like being at times.

South Africa commenced in the field by reinventing the cricketing wheel, starting with the left arm spinner Linde in partnership with Rabada, a combination of left arm slow and right arm fast that was popular a century and more ago (Kent won four county championships using Colin Blythe and Arthur Fielder, just such a combination, and Lancashire at the same period habitually used Briggs and Mold, another combination in the same mould). The bold move (especially bold given that the spinner Linde was on debut) paid an immediate dividend when Linde got Roy with the second ball of the innings. Buttler and Malan also fell cheaply, and at that stage England were well behind the rate, a situation that was still the case when Linde finished his bowling stint with 2-20 from four overs, a truly remarkable effort by the debutant. When he then caught Ben Stokes England looked in trouble. After 16 overs England had got to 129-4 with Bairstow going well, answering every question about his ability to handle batting at no4. The 17th over of the chase was the fourth and last of Beuran Hendricks’ (left arm fast medium) allocation, and he proceeded to lose his team the match. The over contained nine deliveries in total, and between the wides, one of which raced away to advance the score by five and several juicy legal offerings no fewer than 28 accrued to England, reducing a daunting looking 51 off 24 balls to a stroll in the park 23 off 18 balls. This also saw Hendricks join Tom Curran in the ‘wrong sort of half century’ club, leaving him with 0-56 from his four overs. Bairstow, appropriately given his innings, ended proceedings by hitting the second ball of the final over for six to take England to 183-5. It was also appropriate if England were to win that the other England star of the day, Sam Curran, was there at the death.

George Linde deserved better for his magnificent debut effort than to finish on the losing side, and he has my sympathy. I also feel sorry for South African skipper Quinton De Kock who made a bold move at the start of the England innings, and should have seen it bring victory. I can see no case for Hendricks playing any further part in the series. I would also look closely at the involvement of Jason Roy whose recent international form has been very poor.

Other than Hendricks the other let down of the day was the Talk Sport 2 commentary team, who failed to do justice to an excellent game.

GAME THREE – MELBOURNE STARS V SYDNEY THUNDER

This was the final of the Womens’ Big Bash League, which tournament has been very enjoyable. It also duplicated Australia’s oldest internal rivalry, the one that led to the creation of Canberra, since neither of the two biggest cities would countenance the other being named capital.

Melbourne Stars won the toss and batted first, but that win of the toss was the only thing that went right for them. Shabnim Ismail, the South African who is probably the quickest bowler in the women’s game at present, bowled one of the greatest spells in T20 history, by any bowler, either male or female. She bowled her four overs straight through at the start of the innings, finished with 2-12 and would not have been flattered by a five-for. She put Melbourne Stars firmly on the back foot, a position from which they never extricated themselves. They eventually limped to 86-9 from their 20 overs, Sammy-Jo Johnson just improving on Ismail’s figures by taking 2-11 from her four overs. Lauren Smith, an off spinner, went for 18 from two overs, but England captain Heather Knight filled in the remaining two overs, taking 1-9. The top scorer was another England star, Katherine Brunt who finished with 22 not out, just topping Annabel Sutherland’s 20.

This total of course was never remotely defensible, and Sydney Thunder won by seven wickets, with 6.2 overs to spare. There were useful contributions from Tammy Beaumont (another England star), Rachel Trenaman, Heather Knight (26 not out, the highest individual score of the day), and skipper Rachel Haynes.

Quite rightly Shabnim Ismail’s magnificent bowling earned her the player of the match award.

PHOTOGRAPHS

To finish, here are some of my photographs:

TEST XI AND 12TH MAN – ONE PLAYER FROM EACH NATION

Responding to an entertaining challenge thrown down by cric blog to name a test XI and 12th man featuring one current player from each of the 12 test playing nations. Also features some photographs.

This post was inspired by a challenge tweeted by @cric_blog:

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

I responded on twitter, but there is a limit to how much detail one can go into there, so I am now putting up a blog post to provide a fuller explanation of my thoughts (I thank CricBlog for setting a tough but fun challenge and inspiring me to create a blog post – a combination of an English late autumn/ winter and lock down is not exactly ideal for providing inspiration!).

SELECTION ISSUES

The 12 test playing nations are: Australia, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, England, India, Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, West Indies and Zimbabwe. Some of these nations have many current greats to choose from, others have very few players to merit consideration. I also wished as far as possible to pick players in appropriate places in the batting order and to have a properly balanced side.

THE SQUAD FROM 1-12

  1. Dominic Sibley (England) – an opening batter who knows how to bat for a long time. He has impressed considerably since his selection for England, which was earned the old fashioned way by scoring shedloads for his county.
  2. Babar Azam (Pakistan) – he often bats no3 in long form cricket, but he can also open, his class is unquestionable, and his attacking inclinations make him a suitable partner for the solid Sibley.
  3. Kane Williamson (New Zealand) – one of the finest long form batters the game has ever seen, and certainly in the top handful of contemporary batters whatever the format.
  4. Virat Kohli (India) – Another all time great.
  5. Angelo Matthews (Sri Lanka) – Averages 45 with the bat and is also a potential sixth bowler with his medium pace. Sri Lanka are not especially strong at the moment, limiting one’s options in terms of selecting a team of this nature.
  6. +Mushfiqur Rahim (Bangladesh) – A fine wicket keeper and worth his place as a middle order batter as well, the little Bangladeshi can be counted as one of two genuine all rounders in the XI.
  7. *Jason Holder (West Indies) – lower middle order batter, quick bowler and captain. He has a test double century to his name and has also taken some major wicket hauls, including a six-for to start the first test series of the 2020 English season. Although the West Indies ended up losing that series I was overall impressed by Holder’s captaincy and had little hesitation over giving him that role in this team. As an aside, England owe the Windies big time for this summer and should have reciprocal tours of that part of the world high on their priority list.
  8. Rashid Khan (Afghanistan) – an outstanding leg spinner and a useful lower order batter, he was the easiest selection of all for this squad, so far above his compatriots does he stand.
  9. Mark Adair (Ireland) – pace bowler, useful lower order batter (he averages over 25 in first class cricket). He was impressive with the ball at Lord’s in 2019, his only test to date.
  10. Kagiso Rabada (South Africa) – pace bowler. The quickest bowler in the squad, and the best of the three pace bowlers I have named.
  11. Nathan Lyon (Australia) – the best current off spinner (only Murali among off spinners I have seen in action ranks as an unquestionably better bowler – sorry Swanny), and a suitable ‘spin twin’ for Rashid Khan.
  12. Brendon Taylor (Zimbabwe) – Zimbabwe has few stand out names at present, but as a 12th man a wicket keeper who is also a good enough willow wielder to average 35 in test cricket is a pretty decent option.

THE TEAM ANALYSED

This team has a well matched opening pair, an outstanding no 3 and 4, a no 5 who has a very respectable record, an excellent keeper/batter, and Holder filling the all rounders slot at seven. The bowling line up, with Rabada taking the new ball alongside Holder or Adair, a third high class pacer and two outstanding and contrasting spinners in Rashid Khan and Nathan Lyon is also formidable. I would fully expect this team to give a good account of itself in any conditions. For more about my ideas on selection policies and team balance you can look at my ‘All Time XIs‘ series and/or at my ‘100 cricketers‘ series.

EXTENDING THE CHALLENGE

Please feel free to use the comments to indicate your own selections, sticking to the brief of one player per test playing nation. Those who fancy a really serious challenge are invited to pick a XII on similar lines to go up against mine (without thinking too hard I can identify nos 4, 5, 6 (or 4, 5, 7 or 4,6, 7) and 11 of such a combination and would be interested to see if these names feature).

PHOTOGRAPHS

I finish this post with some photographs (to view an image at full size please click on it):

Italy 2020 – Villa D’Este

A look at Villa D’Este as I continue my account of my Italian holiday.

Welcome to the latest post in the series I am doing about my recent Italian holiday (2-11 November). This post deals with the second part of the final Thursday, and will be dominated by photographs.

TIVOLI’S THIRD GREAT ATTRACTION

After being shown the hidden treasures of the Villa Sant’Antonio we headed into central Tivoli for a look at the Villa D’Este, the third major attraction in that part of the world (I featured Villa Adriana and Villa Gregoriana in earlier posts in this series). This villa is still in good c0ndition and also has extensive grounds, although I did not see much of those because I was worried about climbing back up from a longish descent. However, I saw enough to be extremely impressed.

I end this post as usual with a waterfall video:

Italy 2020 – Hidden Treasures at Villa Sant’Antonio

Showcasing the hidden treasures of the Villa Sant’Antonio.

Welcome to the latest post in my series about my Italian holiday (2-11 September inclusive). Today we look at the hidden treasures of the Villa Sant’Antonio, where we stayed for the second half of the holiday. We were shown these on the Thursday morning, the morning of our last full day in Italy.

THE CHAPEL

As I mentioned in an earlier post in this series the Villa Sant’Antonio is a former convent. One unchanged relic of the building’s history is the chapel…

PART 2: ROMAN REMAINS

The chapel was fairly impressive, but to me the second hidden treasure, the Roman remains that lend credence to the notion that the poet Horace had a villa here back in the day, is even more so.

I end with two waterfall videos:

Italy 2020 – Villa Adriana

A look at Villa Adriana.

I am continuing my account of my holiday in Italy (2-11 September inclusive) with a look at Villa Adriana. Before I cover the attraction itself I offer…

SOME WILDLIFE

I am doing this here because I encountered a cricket on the way to Villa Adriana and there were some tiny lizards (about four inches long, presumably insectivorous – quick internet search reveals that there is actually a species called the Italian Wall Lizard, which fits the description) in the grounds of the villa:

THE VILLA ADRIANA

This was the emperor Hadrian’s country retreat, and he had replicas of the most impressive stuff he had seen in the course of his travels (and he saw most of the Roman empire, then at pretty much its absolute height – he had pulled back from some of his predecessor’s conquests, deeming them unsustainable). The site is very substantial, and in Hadrian’s time must have had a staff of thousands looking after it. This is a UNESCO world heritage site, and it thoroughly deserves that designation.

I end this post with another waterfall video:

Italy 2020: Villa Gregoriana

Continuing my account of my Italian holiday with a look at Villa Gregoriana, plus a link to an important petition.

It has been a while since my last post, but I have not forgotten about all of you who support me here on wordpress. Today I continue my account of my Italian holiday (2-11 September inclusive). In my most recent post I covered the move from Rome to Tivoli. Today I look at the first major attraction we visited in Tivoli. However, before I get into the meat of this post I have something to draw your attention to:

AN IMPORTANT PETITION

My attention was drawn today to a petition on change.org calling for the minimum wage to be increased and turned into a genuine living wage. Many of the workers affected are also the precise workers on whom we have been relying during the pandemic. I have posted a screenshot below and urge you to sign and share this petition.

VILLA GREGORIANA

The name of this place derives from the 16th and last pope to use the name Gregory (the selfsame Gregory who created an order of knights supposedly named in honour of the first pope Gregory) who oversaw some important engineering works in the area (the waterfalls, including the big one I have showing videos of are nearly all engineered and not as they would have looked in olden times, when the river Aniene regularly flooded the town). Although it is named as a villa the grounds are all that remain, although among the many landmarks they feature are the remains of a temple of Vesta.

We walked there and then through the grounds. The walking route goes right down into the heart of what is a very deep valley and then up the other side. The ascent, in heat that was already quite punishing (the temperature was into the thirties, unusually hot for the time of year), caused me serious problems – a combination of exhaustion and dehydration. Four of us including me travelled back to our villa in a taxi, and I spent a very quiet afternoon in my room, drinking lots of water. I recovered, and thereafter never went out without water and adopted a much more cautious approach for the rest of the stay. I enjoyed seeing the grounds of the Villa Gregoriana, which as I hope the photo gallery that follows indicates are quite extraordinary.